Depending upon how much of the grooming process you wish to undertake yourself there are various tools and equipment you will need. Along with this, you will need consumables such as shampoo, clipper oil and cleaner, detangler sprays and so on. Here is an outline of some of the gear you may need.
Clippers – how to choose the best clippers for your needs
There are two types of clipper available
– A fixed blade that has a blade that may have a minimal adjustment but can be removed for sharpening and replacing. These are generally of lower quality and power and are not a good choice if you are planning to do the full groom on your dog. They are OK for doing tidy work like clipping under the paws or sanitary clips.
-Detachable blade clippers that have blades that can be clipped on and off giving you a variety of length choices and work well with guide comb attachments also.
The important thing to remember is you want clippers that have adequate power for the type of coat you are using them on. Underpowered clippers will chew at the coat being uncomfortable for your dog and giving a poorly finished cut.
Power is determined by two things – the power of the motor and the speed of the clipper or RPM (rotations per minute). This relates to the speed the rotor lever moves the cutting teeth on the blade.
It is well worth paying a little more for better clippers as they will last a lifetime and make the job easier. I personally recommend clippers that have a 45W motor and an RPM of 3000 or more.
For more information on which clippers are best for your needs see Best clippers for DIY dog grooming at home.
Clippers will generally come with one blade usually a #10 (1.8mm). You may need other sizes for longer cutting. There are two types of blade, a skip tooth blade and an F blade also called a Finishing blade. The skip tooth blade has wide teeth and is good for clipping matted and extremely dirty coats. I would not recommend them for the novice or home groomer as there is more chance to nick the skin with these. The F blade is fine for clipping matted coat and as the name suggests give a better finish. The various blade lengths are (may vary between brands)
View Clipper Blades on Amazon
Dog Grooming Blade Sizes
#30 0.5mm great for clipping under paws and for use with guide combs and doing poodle shaved feet.
#15 1.2mm for use with guide combs and used for many specialized poodle grooms. Not really needed by the do it yourself home groomer.
#10 1.8mm great for sanitary clipping, using with guide combs and close body clipping for breeds such as Schnauzers and Spaniels. Can be used for clipping under paws if you don’t have a #30
#7F 3.2mm most common blade for doing short body clips on matted dogs or summer clips.
#5F 6mm another good blade for short body clipping but slightly longer than #7F. Good for dogs with a thin coat or white dogs so you can’t see the skin as much.
#8 1/2 and #9 2.8mm and 2mm Body blades also but probably not worth having as only a very trained eye could see the difference between these and a #7F and #10.
#4F 9.5mm nice body blade giving a longer clip than the #5F but still short and tidy. Great for breeds like Bichons when you don’t want to clip right down but still want an easy to maintain coat.
#3F or 3 3/4 13mm Good for longer body cut but the coat is too tangled for guide comb so will save having to do extra brushing. Will not clip a really matted coat.
#3 5/8 16mm Longest blade but not that common. If this goes through the coat so will a similar length guide comb
The body blades can also be used for clipping the head when you want a short head. For lengths longer than 13mm it is necessary to use guide comb attachments.
Blades cut differently to guide combs in that a blade lays the coat flat to cut giving a closer smooth finish and a guide comb lifts the coat to cut giving a fluffy finish. A 13mm blade and a 13mm guide comb will finish differently so experiment between blades and guide combs to see what you prefer.
Guide Comb Attachments
Guide comb attachments or snap-on combs as they are sometimes referred to are an invaluable piece of equipment for anyone doing dog grooming. This is whether they are a do it yourself home groomer or a professional groomer. They give you a lot of versatility to do longer lengths on the body, blending, do quick easy heads, and trimming tails. Especially if you haven’t developed your scissoring skills to a higher standard or you only have a #10 blade or only a few blades.
They generally come in two types – plastic combs or steel combs. The plastic combs have several limitations as they are quite often flimsy. They can break or they can pop off the blade if you hit a snag leaving a nice bald spot on the coat.
The steel combs go through the coat better, even thick coats and they should never pop off the blade unless you really force them. My recommendation is definitely to use steel combs.
I use the Wahl Stainless Steel Comb set which has 8 different lengths from around 3mm up to 24mm which is all you should ever need.
View Wahl Stainless Steel Comb Set on Amazon
Obviously, you can’t clip or groom your dog until they are fully dry. Clipping a dog that is still damp will clog the blade. It will leave clipper marks on the coat resulting in a bad finish.
The solution is to either wait until they are dry, perhaps the next day, or to blow dry. Using a hand-held dryer for human hair is fine for a small fine-haired breed such as a Yorkshire terrier. For a dog with a thicker or longer coat, it would take an awfully long time.
The best solution is to use a dog blow dryer. Commercial dog blow dryers like those used in grooming salons are very expensive. However, there are available smaller dog dryers available at very reasonable prices.
I would recommend something such as a small home blow dryer. Many come with two airspeed settings and three heat levels (no heat, medium, and high) and several easy to attachments to increase airflow.
I have blow-dried long coat large breed dogs with one of these. It was more than up for the job. Although small dryers like this don’t have the air velocity of large commercial grooming dryers by using the heater the coat still dry quickly. It also helps to straighten the coat making it better for clipping and scissoring. Just be sure not to allow the air to get too hot and keep the air moving.
View small home blow dryer on Amazon
You will need a stable non-slip surface for your dog to stand on while being groomed. I recommend getting a dog grooming table. These have the added advantage of having a grooming arm that you can attach your dog with a grooming loop. This is to prevent your dog from jumping off and making it easier to keep them still while working on them. Read “How to keep a dog calm while grooming”
Grooming tables come in a variety of designs and sizes. From simple fold away tables (some are fixed height and others have height adjustment) to hydraulic that can be raised up and down either with a pump foot pedal or electric foot pedal.
There are a few factors you will need to consider to select a dog grooming table to fit your needs.
Obviously the size of the dog or dogs it is to be used for. If you have a small breed dog a smaller table will be fine. If it is a 70kg dog you will need something larger and more stable. Of course, your size matters also as if it has no height adjustment it will need to be at a comfortable height to avoid putting a strain on your back.
Also, the portability and ease of storage are important if you need to travel with it or need to pack it away when not in use.
Click to view Dog Grooming Table prices on Amazon
Dog Grooming Scissors (Shears)
You do need to use scissors that are designed for cutting dog fur. Normal scissors will probably hack the coat leaving obvious scissor marks or even just fold the coat not cutting at all.
Dog grooming scissors fit into three categories: Straight, Curved, and Thinning. Scissors come in a variety of sizes and styles. The standard size of straight and curved scissors is 7-8 inches but you may want to use a smaller scissor if you are grooming a small dog or you have small hands.
See prices of dog grooming scissors on Amazon
You will need at least a pair of straight scissors and it is possible to fully groom a dog with these. However, curved scissors will make it easier to do nice round feet and to set in angles and curved finishes in an area such as the back of the rear legs and the head.
Thinning scissors will give you versatility as they can be used to clean up lines, blend, remove knots and numerous other techniques. You can get complete scissor sets at very reasonable prices so it is worth having all three types to give you that versatility and make the job easier.
Brushes and Combs
Refer to the “How to brush a dog” for more information on the types of brushing tools you will need.
Nail clipping tools
For clipping your dog’s nails (claws) you will need a good pair of nail clippers and even a nail grinder to file and smooth the nails. Also, keep a tub of Stylic powder handy in case you do cut the quick (blood vessels in the nail). Refer to this article for more on clipping a dog’s nails
One of the best ways to learn to do it yourself dog groom at home is to watch videos, However, I have watched hundreds of dog grooming videos on U tube. I have found that many give poor advise and some are downright wrong. There is some with good information. For a beginner home groomer, it is difficult to know which. Other videos are highly skilled professional groomers using scissoring techniques that the novice do it yourself home groomer wouldn’t be able to do. For someone who is new to grooming, this can be very confusing.
I would recommend getting some professional dog grooming DVDs either on your particular breed or dog grooming basics. The fact that they have gone to the effort of making a DVD means they probably know what they are doing. They generally will have good advise. Click to view dog grooming DVDs on Amazon.
In addition, there are many good dog grooming books for beginners which you can refer to again and again.
There are many products available from shampoos and conditioners to detangling sprays and colognes and so on. For more information on selecting a shampoo refer to “How to bathe a dog“